The biggest news story this year was the wildfires. However, there were plenty of other news highlights. Here is a recap of the biggest and most curious news stories from this year in chronological order:
The United States International Trade Commission announced a finding of “injury,” allowing the U.S Department of Commerce to continue its investigation into Canada and Canadian softwood lumber producers for allegations of unfair trade practices.
The Ministry of Education announced they would fund hiring more than 1,000 new teaching positions. Cariboo-Chilcotin Teachers’ Association President Murray Helmer said he was glad to see the hiring of new teachers but that t wasn’t really new money.
“It’s money that has been taken out of education for so long.”
A Jan. 13 fire severely damaged a mobile home on Canim-Hendrix Lake Road in Forest Grove, leaving its two residents temporarily homeless.
“We contained it to the back bedroom of the unit but [there was] heavy smoke and heat damage to the rest of it,” said Forest Grove Volunteer Fire Department chief Aron Zablotny.
The CRD was working on trying to get the Boil Water Notice in 103 Mile lifted. Drilling on the first well had started on Jan. 16 and was completed by Jan. 18. The second was started on Jan. 19 and finished by the end of the 21, according to then CRD Chair Al Richmond.
“We want to see if we can alleviate the boil water order,” he said. “We would like to take that pressure off residents because there’s no contamination in the system according to our tests.”
100 Mile has a real opportunity to assume a leadership role in seniors’ care was one of the main takeaways from the Age-Friendly Society’s housing forum.
100 Mile has the oldest population in northern B.C. and a large discrepancy between the available housing and the demand for housing, said Marleen Morris, one of the presenters at the meeting.
Fischer Place/Mill Site Lodge is understaffed according to a new report put out by the Office of the Seniors Advocate. According to the report, Fischer Place was operating with an average of 3.19 hours per resident per day while the Ministry of Health guidelines say senior care facilities should have a minimum of 3.36 hours per day.
A three per cent Municipal and Regional District Tax was in the works to be added to hotel room bills in order to establish a marketing fund for the Cariboo, Chilcotin and Coast region. Between the tax and additional government funding, it was estimated to bring in $1 million for the fund.
A fire completely destroyed a house in Horse Lake on Feb. 1. No one was home at the time of the fire and neighbours said the house had been vacant for some weeks.
According to census data, 100 Mile and the South Cariboo increased in population between 2011 and 2016. Cariboo H, the area including Canim Lake and Forest Grove saw the biggest growth at 13.7 per cent or 215 people since 2011.
A trailer home on Highway 24 in Lone Butte was demolished by fire. Lone Butte Fire Department Chief Jon Grieve said no one was home at the time and that the cause of the fire was still under investigation.
The 2017 New Year’s Baby arrived at the 100 Mile District General Hospital to the delight of a proud family from Canim Lake. The girl was named Indy Bowden Simpson.
A provincial teachers shortage extended to the Cariboo. “We are still looking for a few more teachers, so we are trying to recruit and we are trying to take out of provincial [applications] as well,” said School District #27 superintendent Mark Wintjes. “We are looking at our credentials of people that may have a degree, but not in education.”
Cameron Jensen and Willow MacDonald stepped forward for the School District 27 byelection.
The Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition (CCBAC) announced they would be shutting down at the end of the year. CCBAC Chair Jim Rivett said the regional group sees no point in continuing as it will no longer have the ability to directly administer funding for local projects.
Bruce Madu was awarded Citizen of the Year. Madu has been a volunteer for decades including at the community garde, Canadian Red Cross, 100 Mile & District Performing Arts, 100 Mile Festival of the Arts, Eclectica Community Choir, Royal Canadian Legion and the 100 Mile Wranglers.
Housing affordability dropped in 2016 according to a report by the BC Northern Real Estate Board. 32.3 per cent of average income was spent on housing costs in the area, according to the report. Compared to other cities across Northern B.C. 100 Mile House had the second highest, falling only behind Terrace at 34 per cent.
Snowmobilers were rescued from Mica Mountain. Matt Neis and Alex Eburne said they knew they would have to stay put and make a fire when their snowmobiles got stuck yet again. “You’re trying to keep calm as best as you can. Things really start to go wonky in your mind and you start losing it.”
Residents came out to provide input on revisions to the Official South Cariboo Community Plan at three open house sessions. According to then CRD Chair Al Richmond, the CRD heard loud and clear that residents in Area G were not supportive of short-term rentals.
The District of 100 Mile House was celebrating the approval of more than $1.6 million in funding for its Alpine Loop water project. “We have to thank our MLA Donna Barnett in getting this for us. It’s well appreciated,” 100 Mile House mayor Mitch Campsall. The project will improve water pressure for fire suppressions standards as well as servicing businesses and residences in the 99 Mile Hill area, according to Campsall.
Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett presented a $50,000 cheque towards a waterpark, bringing the total funding from the province towards a water park to $110,000. The project was still looking for an additional $30,000 at the time but said construction would for sure start in the spring of 2018.
Federal ESL and settlement funding dried up. Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy executive director Shelly Joyner said after 10 years of operation it lost most of its federal funding for 100 Mile House, forcing it to cut staff hours and program availability.
West Fraser applied for a gravel quarry to be created on Crown land for them in upgrading its local mill site. The property in question comprised approximately four hectares located near Scout Lake.
The provincial government announced it was eliminating its requirement for water permits and rental fees for rural fire departments to install dry hydrants or otherwise divert, store to draw surface water for fire suppression purpose.
Crowds turned to the Bridge Lake Ice Caves trail entrance to see two new totem poles carved by Canim Lake First Nation (Tsq’escenemc) artist Jerome Boyce.
The CRD awarded a contract for a new design for the South Cariboo Rec Centre to HCMA Architecture + Design; one of six responses to the concept design request for proposals.
$1.5 Million was announced by the province to build 18 new units of affordable rental housing for low-income adults and people with special needs in 100 Mile House.
The announcement was welcomed by local mental health and poverty groups.
It was announced new or soon-to-be parents would be able to get baby boxes from the Early Years Centre at the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre. The boxes consist of a sturdy decorated cardboard box with a firm waterproof mattress as well as supplies for newborns.
A new duty was imposed on softwood lumber by the U.S. Department of Commerce. West Fraser was hit the hardest by the duties at a rate of 24.12 per cent.
The provincial election was in full swing, with voters coming out to listen to BC liberal candidate Donna Barnett, BC Green Candidate Rita Giesbrecht and BC NDP candidate Sally Watson debate at an all-candidates forum in 100 Mile House.
Donna Barnett was comfortably re-elected as the MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin with 59 per cent of the vote.
Provincially, the Liberals remained the largest party but no longer had the majority of seats. Locally, Green Party support saw a 10 per cent increase compared to the 2013 election going from 5 per cent to 15 per cent. Locally, the NDP won 26 per cent of the votes.
The local Slope Line bike park was vandalized. Wooden jumps had pickaxes smashed into them and one was torn down. Dirt features had shovels taken to them.
Bikers were working on rebuilding the bike park. They were working to have it ready for a memorial jump jam on May 19 for Tyler Tenning, a 17-year-old student from Williams Lake who died in a rollover incident.
Between 2011 and 2016 there was a drastic drop in the South Cariboo in total farms (down 28 per cent), total cattle (down 31 per cent) and total operators (down 25 per cent), according to Statistics Canada. Pete Bonter, a third-generation rancher with six children, said he was emotional he wouldn’t have anyone to succeed him but that there wasn’t enough money in it to attract young people to the industry.
Just over 4,400 homes in the South Cariboo were left without power as a result of a windstorm with winds reaching up to 90 km/h. The Lake of the Trees Bible Camp put out a plea for help to help clean up the area in time for a retreat starting May 26.
Power outages continued across the South Cariboo as about 4,000 homes were again left without power. Some residents also were left without a telephone connection.
The much-anticipated housing report was released b the Age Friendly Society of the South Cariboo. It revealed there are not enough available and appropriate housing options for seniors in the South Cariboo.
Two local RCMP constables were honoured as part of the 2016 Alexa’s team for taking 43 impaired drivers off the road. “It’s good that we’re taking drunk drivers off the road. We’re not just out there giving tickets out … but we are trying to save lives,” said Cst. Jeff McMichael. The other Cst. was Alex Hutt.
There were over 2,500 lightning strikes within a 150 km radius of 100 Mile House on June 8, according to Matt MacDonald, a meteorologist with Environment Canada. The lightning strikes were followed by an appropriately timed lightning safety week.
The Forest Grove Elementary School placed first in the province among the 50-150 student category for recycling over 100,000 containers. “I’m so impressed,” said principal Mikel Brogan. “It’s a pretty big feat for us. I’m really proud of everyone.”
A forest fire that started on June 18 20 km south of Lac la Hache was 100 per cent under control, according to fire information officer for the Cariboo Fire Centre, Natasha Broznitsky. The size of the fire was determined to be 12.7 hectares.
The public was asked for their help spotting lightning-caused fires as a second forest fire was discovered 40 km southwest of Lac la Hache. Containment efforts had 50 firefighters, one helicopter and two heavy equipment operators on site on June 24. “Given the weather forecast and high to extreme fire ratings, we’re preparing for the possibility of increased fire activity across the Cariboo,” said fire information officer Natasha Broznitsky.